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Muslims are being urged to be vigilant during Ramadan

Men attend the first Friday prayers of Ramadan at the East London Mosque.
Men attend the first Friday prayers of Ramadan at the East London Mosque.

by IMAM QARI ASIM THIS week marks the beginning of Ramadan. For Muslims, it is a time of reflection, spiritual awareness and rejuvenation. During the month, Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sexual relations from dawn to sunset. Certain groups are exempt, including children, the elderly, the sick, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and people who are travelling. As the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar calendar, Ramadan (the ninth month of the Islamic calendar) falls at different times of the year. The hours of fasting are incredibly long during the summer. This year, British Muslims will have their breakfast at around 2am (sehri) and then go without food and drink until 9 pm (iftar). There is no denying that people will feel tired and weaker than usual due to the long hours of fasting, but they will still carry on with their daily lives – going to school, taking exams, working, playing, cooking. Indeed, some of the world’s leading athletes and sports stars have managed to fast while performing at the highest levels. But as Muslims around the world prepare themselves to welcome Ramadan, there is also anxiety and fear. We are all too aware of the recent attacks on mosques. In a world where mosques, churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship are being targeted by extremists, the safety and security of worshippers has become a serious concern for faith communities. Following the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, there was an instant spike in hate crimes reported across Britain – it increased by a staggering 593 per cent. The government recognises the threat, and has supported faith associates to offer workshops training mosque leaders and volunteers to ensure mosques have the right training and support to make their mosques and congregations safe and secure.…

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